Monthly Archives: July 2014

Coal Related News from Around the Nation

EPA Emissions Plan Draws Protest in Pittsburgh (Wall Street Journal)

Several thousand unionized coal miners, electrical workers and others filled Pittsburgh’s downtown on Thursday to protest the Obama administration’s proposed rule to curb carbon emissions from the nation’s power plants, ahead of two days of hearings on the issue in the city.

But in an indication of how the issue has divided the labor movement, several major unions were absent from the protest. Some of those have backed the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to cut greenhouse gas emissions over the next several decades, while others have not yet taken a clear position on the matter.

The United Mine Workers of America and other unions who organized the rally argue that the EPA rule to lower carbon emissions by 30% by 2030 based on 2005 levels would boost electricity prices and cost more than 65,000 jobs mostly across Appalachia, while doing little to address climate change globally.

“It’s going to be devastating if it goes through in its current form,” Cecil Roberts, president of the UMWA, said in an interview before the protest.

More than a hundred representatives from the coal and utility industries, labor unions, environmental groups and others are scheduled to present their views during two days of agency hearings in Pittsburgh, beginning Thursday.

Adoption of the EPA’s New Pollution Rule Will Cost Pennsylvania Jobs (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Starting today, the Environmental Protection Agency is holding public hearings in Pittsburgh regarding a proposed rule for greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. This far-reaching “climate rule” is going to drive up the cost of energy in Pennsylvania and in every state in America, a fact that even President Barack Obama has acknowledged. Everyone will pay a price for it — families, businesses, retirees — anyone who uses electricity.

Manufacturers, including producers of products such as steel, cement and transportation fuels, will also be hurt. These industries prosper in Pennsylvania where coal-based power plants providing low-cost electricity make up about 40 percent of our state’s energy mix.

Policies that hurt American manufacturing also hurt American workers. The United Mine Workers of America estimates that job losses from EPA’s climate rule could reach 208,221 by 2025.

EPA Rule Puts U.S. Economy, Electric Grid at Risk (Politico)

By Hal Quinn, President & CEO, National Mining Association

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to establish carbon dioxide performance standards for existing power plants is a stunning attempt to remake the nation’s entire electric grid at great cost to homes and businesses across the nation. It also threatens the reliability of our electric grid, which is already close to the edge of breaking in large part due to earlier EPA rules that are forcing many base load power plants to close. This latest proposal will push the grid over the edge.

This proposal is one more step in the administration’s policies designed to eliminate low cost and reliable electricity and replace it with more expensive and less reliable sources. Reducing the diversity of our nation’s electricity supply and raising its costs will create a structural barrier for our economic recovery and future growth. Our manufacturing base will become less competitive because of higher electricity and natural gas prices, which will halt the beginnings of a U.S. manufacturing renaissance. Families will have less disposable income as they spend more to light and heat their homes, with seniors, families on fixed incomes and lower-income Americans being hit the hardest.

EPA’s proposal is based upon a complex web of assumptions—many of them implausible—about future energy demand, dramatic shifts in generation sources, adding more intermittent sources for generation and reducing energy use in 48 states. Each of these assumptions—what EPA calls “building blocks”—rests upon a weak foundation.


Proposed EPA Rules Threaten Pennsylvania Manufacturing (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

They would stifle the coal and gas industries and stall the economic recovery


The Keystone State is at the center of events that will impact our country’s future.

Pennsylvania is producing a diverse energy mix, including shale gas and coal, that is driving a manufacturing comeback in the commonwealth and across the country. Proposed federal regulations on carbon would put these jobs and the broader economic growth they support at risk. These issues will come to a head at a public hearing in Pittsburgh this week.

Pennsylvania is fueling our economic growth by providing the resources that have kept electricity affordable. The U.S. Department of Energy ranks Pennsylvania as the nation’s fourth-largest coal-producing state, with more than 54 million short tons in 2013.

The state also sits atop what the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association has described as one of the largest natural gas fields in the world — the Marcellus and Utica shales. These gas deposits have made Pennsylvania one of the fastest-growing natural gas producers in the country, according to the Department of Energy.

Affordable electricity prices supported by Pennsylvania coal and gas are helping manufacturers compete and grow. Pennsylvania manufacturers now employ more than 563,000 men and women and contribute $70.6 billion to the state’s economy. Nationally, a resurgent manufacturing sector now employs more than 12 million workers and recently reached the $2 trillion mark for its contribution to the U.S. economy.

However, this critical manufacturing growth is about to run directly into a series of new federal regulations that threaten to grind our recovery to a halt by limiting the use of coal and, ultimately, natural gas.

Average Price of Electricity Climbs to All-Time Record (CNS News)

For the first time ever, the average price for a kilowatthour (KWH) of electricity in the United States has broken through the 14-cent mark, climbing to a record 14.3 cents in June, according to data released last week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Before this June, the highest the average price for a KWH had ever gone was 13.7 cents, the level it hit in June, July, August and September of last year.

The 14.3-cents average price for a KWH recorded this June is about 4.4 percent higher than that previous record.

Denver EPA Hearing Fires Debate Over Costs of Cutting Carbon — or Not (Denver Post)

The federal proposal to cut coal-fired power-plant carbon emissions will affect the nation’s economy — and witnesses at a Denver hearing Tuesday sparred over just what it will mean.

“(The Environmental Protection Agency) is trying to shut down the coal industry without regard,” said Greg Schaefer, a spokesman for Arch Coal Inc., which employs about 1,800 people in Wyoming and about 320 in western Colorado. “I urge EPA to withdraw the proposal.”

New Obama EPA Rules Will Devastate Seniors: reader opinion (

By Jim Martin

This week, the Environmental Protection Agency will hold regional field hearings on Obama’s proposed carbon rules. While a number of Alabamians will be traveling with 60 Plus Alabama to the hearings to speak out against the proposed rules, everyone in Alabama should take these matters seriously. If Obama and the EPA get their way, 17,000 jobs here will be lost and it will inevitably raise the cost of energy for every household and business.

When President Obama proposed healthcare reform that added 30 million to the insurance rolls while promising lower costs, most people who passed fourth grade math raised an eyebrow, if not a ruckus. The simple realities of supply and demand, coupled with the burden of government mandates, could only push healthcare costs skyward. With Obamacare now in effect, those early concerns have come to be realized through skyrocketing premiums, as confirmed by a recent Morgan Stanley survey of 148 national insurance brokers.

Premiums are up as much as 100% in some cases, and this is after Obama promised “savings.” One can only imagine what would happen to the cost of a commodity the President promises to make Americans pay more for. Unfortunately, we don’t have to imagine, as this is exactly what Obama promised his energy plan would achieve.

In January of 2008, candidate Obama told the San Francisco Chronicle that “under my plan… electricity prices will necessarily skyrocket.” No sanguine language here about savings, just a flat out mission to make Americans pay through the nose for energy. It’s no coincidence that under Obama gasoline prices have doubled, and have remained above $3 per gallon throughout his two terms.

Now to make good on his promise to make electricity cost more, Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have issued brutal new rules on emissions for electricity generating power plants, just what the doctor ordered for skyrocketing electricity prices. This is a story largely ignored by the mainstream press who never miss an Obama chip shot on to the green or a grip and grin in some remote diner. But Americans are catching on fast.

Industry Lobbyist to EPA: Pull the Proposed Clean Power Rule (West Virginia MetroNews)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The president and chief executive officer of the National Mining Association is part of the chorus calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw the proposed Clean Power Act — the regulations designed to reduce carbon emissions from existing coal-fired power plants.

“They’re trying to change the way we generate electricity here and push us from the lowest costs options, being coal, to the higher cost and more intermittent sources, such as solar and wind, and give them an additional boost,” Hal Quinn said.

Gina McCarthy, the EPA’s administrator, took questions from members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works about the proposals on Capitol Hill last week.

“EPA’s proposed Clean Power plan will cut hundreds of millions of tons of carbon pollution and hundreds of thousands of tons of other harmful air pollutants from existing power plants,” McCarthy said.

As proposed, each state would be given specific goals for cutting carbon pollution based on every mega-watt hour of electricity generated and will be able to develop their own plans for meeting those goals. In West Virginia, for example, where coal usage is high, EPA officials have said the goal reduction rate may fall below a national target average of 30 percent.

But Quinn dismissed such variations as “a complex web of implausible assumptions.”

High utility bills: the ‘new normal’? (St. Joseph News-Press)

When household utility bills soared this past winter, frustrated consumers were quick to blame the usual suspect — the weather. Specifically, it was a polar vortex that stressed the power grid during weeks of frigid Arctic air.

Not only did electricity prices go through the roof (more than 10 times last year’s average in many parts of the country), the power grid came perilously close to a meltdown. Cheryl Lafleur, head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said the power grid was “close to the edge” last winter. FERC Commissioner Philip Moeller said in some regions of the country he fears the power system today “is in a more precarious situation” than ever before. Grid operators worried that blackouts would occur.

Utility companies warn a prolonged heat wave this summer could stress the grid again because more power is required to cool homes than heat them. In a June newsletter, the American Association for Retired Persons warned rising electricity costs this summer raised “concerns that some older consumers will have to limit, or even forgo, the use of air conditioning.” Do we really want to put senior citizens’ health at risk in this way?

The main reason widespread blackouts did not occur last winter? Coal. Coal was used heavily throughout the polar vortex. “During that time, coal provided 92 percent of the increase in energy needed to survive the disaster,” West Virginia Joe Manchin said. However, many of the coal plants that provide essential reliability in times of extreme weather will not be around to save the day, if the Environmental Protection Agency has its way with its newly proposed carbon limits on coal-fired electricity generating plants.

Colorado Energy Costs to Rise from Power Plant Regulations (Denver Post)

EPA’s rule on carbon emissions will hurt Colorado

By Stuart Sanderson
Guest Commentary

This week, the Environmental Protection Agency is holding a public hearing in Denver regarding its proposed rule for carbon emissions from existing power plants. Even President Obama has acknowledged that the rule will drive up the cost of electricity and your utility bill. Everyone will pay a price for the EPA’s rule.

Not surprisingly, all over the country, rising electricity prices are raising concern. A recent Harris Poll of nationwide consumers found that more than three-quarters of Americans worry that proposed EPA policies to eliminate coal-generated electricity — the most abundant and affordable source — will produce higher electricity prices.

But hardest hit will be states like Colorado that rely heavily on coal for affordable electricity. Coal-based power plants generate about 64 percent of Colorado’s electricity. And the EPA’s rule is coming after them. Previous EPA regulations have already forced 20 percent of the nation’s coal plant capacity to close, pushing the reliability of the power grid close to the edge. The EPA’s new regulation will force utility companies to decide if additional plants are simply uneconomic to upgrade.

Colorado — due to its reliance on clean, high-quality coal — has enjoyed electric rates below the national average. Unfortunately, rates are increasing substantially, the result of mandates for higher-cost energy sources like renewables and natural gas. These rate hikes won’t be the last we will see, as the EPA carbon regulation will eliminate even more coal-based generation, leaving more expensive energy sources to fill the gap.

Indiana State Representative Opposes EPA Regulations (Warrick Publishing)

Standing up for Hoosiers

This will not be the first time you hear me talk about coal, nor will it be the last. I have spoken in the past about what I feel are destructive regulations passed on Indiana by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); regulations that are made stricter and stricter every time we turn around. In fact, according to Indiana’s Utility Forecasting Group, regulations have already been put in place that will increase the cost of electricity in Indiana by 30 percent over the next seven years.

Pike and Warrick counties are two of the most coal dense counties in the entire state, so our district stands to be among the most impacted by these changes. While I can appreciate the EPA’s efforts for a cleaner America, I would argue that this industry has already done enough. According to the Institute for Energy Research, coal-fired electricity generation is cleaner today than ever before, and this is not simply by chance. The coal industry has spent billions on “clean-coal” initiatives that have made production not only cleaner but also more efficient. In addition, I think the EPA has overlooked another very important aspect: our local economies. (more…)

U.S. Senator David Vitter Statement on Power Plant Regulation Proposal

Vitter Summary Statement for Oversight Hearing of EPA’s Proposed Carbon Rule
U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works “Oversight Hearing: EPA’s Proposed Carbon Pollution Standards for Existing Power Plants”

Thank you, Chairman Boxer, for convening today’s hearing. I look forward to hearing from Administrator McCarthy, as all we have heard since EPA proposed this existing source rule are explanations for their unprecedented “outside-the-fence” regulation that will destroy our country’s electricity system.

There are so many issues with this proposal that it’s impossible to say anything good about it. EPA’s blueprint, which is fundamentally similar to the Natural Resources Defense Council’s, drives States to implement renewable portfolio standards to replace fossil-fuel energy, whether they like it or not. But wind and solar aren’t necessarily the best choice for every State’s economy. Under this regulation, Louisiana is supposed to divert economically-valuable timber into fuel for electricity generation. That’s quite an expensive feedstock compared to coal or natural gas. And, in defense of attacks by theNew York Times and others, the Administrator readily admits her Agency must revisit nuclear energy, since right now it encourages the closure of nuclear plants. Basically, EPA is insisting that States ration electricity and limit consumer choice, especially if that choice involves using more electricity.

EPA’s proposal makes a number of assumptions, misdirects, and glosses over its heavy-handed attempt to hijack the entire electricity system, all in the name of flexibility. In reality, EPA usurps the role of State governments and public utility commissions as well as FERC, DOE, and other federal agencies that do have the authority over and expertise in electricity generation issues. Unfortunately for EPA, electricity is not directly under its jurisdiction. Changing dispatch rules to require the most expensive power be delivered first, mandating efficiency, and the use of renewables are examples of intrastate generation, transmission, and distribution matters reserved to the States by the Federal Power Act. Moreover, the EPA attempts to dump the politically unpopular decision-making of having to pick winners and losers on the state regulators and legislatures. EPA’s proposed rule seeks to turn States into either hostages or unwilling accomplices in an effort that could impoverish families, businesses, and communities.


NMA Urges Withdrawal of Flawed Power Plant Regulations (National Mining Association)

NMA’s Quinn Calls on EPA to Withdraw Flawed Climate Rule

National Mining Association (NMA) President and CEO Hal Quinn joined leaders of a broad industry coalition this morning to call on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdraw and rework the flawed rule it proposed for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants. In the following statement, Quinn underscores the concerns that were expressed in a July 21 letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy from the Partnership for a Better Energy Future, a diverse coalition representing more than 165 industries and 80 percent of the economy:

“EPA’s climate change proposal for existing plants is a complex web of implausible assumptions that will harm many sectors of the economy, not just the coal industry and its supply chain. It is nothing less than an attempt to entirely remake the nation’s electricity grid.

“Unfortunately, EPA’s assertion that it can accomplish this without inflicting substantial harm on grid reliability and the energy economy inspires little confidence. The agency underestimated by a factor of ten the power generation that would be lost from its previous regulations. The resulting loss of generating capacity during the next severe winter could drive up wholesale electricity prices from between 24 to 55 percent in many regions of the country – and that is without any additional plant retirements that would result from the proposed climate rule.

States Urged to Reject EPA Power Plant Regulation Proposal (National Review)

Stand Up, Governors 
The states should resist the EPA’s all-pain, no-gain carbon regulations. 

By Derrick Morgan

In Washington, the executive branch is overreaching as never before, and Congress seems disinclined to do much to stop the Leviathan. For those who believe in limited government, the last, best hope for resistance appears to be the nation’s governors. They could form a firm line of defense against the administration’s most recent attempted power grab: the Environmental Protection Agency’s all-pain, no-gain, back-door cap-and-trade scheme.

Governors and states have stood up to the administration’s excesses before. Twenty-seven refused to set up their own machinery to implement Obamacare exchanges, and 24 still refuse to accept more federal Medicaid money under the law, understanding that they would be on the hook for funding the unaffordable expansion later.

Governors and legislators across the country should use the same playbook and resist the EPA’s attempt to coerce them into setting up their own regulatory regime to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Whatever the variation adopted — be it cap-and-trade, carbon tax, or some other regulatory scheme — the result would inevitably be the same: the destruction of manufacturing jobs, soaring electricity bills, and an imperceptible effect on the environment.

Montana Groups Gearing to Fight EPA Proposals (Billings Gazette)

Groups gearing up for newest coal fight

Montanans are gearing up for the latest round in the coal wars, with industry supporters trying to protect jobs while environmentalists seek a shift to renewable energy.

At issue is the Obama administration’s proposal last month to cut by 30 percent nationwide the emissions of carbon dioxide — a greenhouse gas that many scientists say contributes to climate change. Coal-fired power plants are significant carbon producers and a major piece of Montana’s economy, employing hundreds and supporting Powder River Basin coal mines.

The Environmental Protection Agency is holding a two-day public hearing July 29 and 30 in Denver, one of four nationwide. The agency is also accepting written comment, and both sides are preparing statements.

“What we’re focused on is making sure that people in Montana are aware what the costs are going to be of this rule,” said Chuck Denowh, a spokesman with Count on Coal Montana, an industry coalition.

U.S. Power Plant Turns to Russia for Coal (Bloomberg)

Hungry U.S. Power Plant Turns to Russia for Coal Shipment

When New Hampshire’s largest utility needed to rebuild coal supplies after the past frigid winter, it turned to Russia rather than Appalachia in the U.S. Northeast or Wyoming’s Powder River Basin.

The Doric Victory, a bulk carrier the length of two football fields, transported the fuel almost 4,000 miles (6,436 kilometers) from Riga, Latvia, last month to Public Service of New Hampshire’s Schiller power plant in Portsmouth, a 150-megawatt facility that’s produced electricity since 1952.

Utilities in the U.S. are scrambling for coal, on pace to increase imports 26 percent this year, as railroad bottlenecks slow deliveries and electricity demand climbs with an improving economy. Russia, the world’s third-largest exporter of the fuel, will boost shipments 3.9 percent to 106 million metric tons this year, IHS Energy forecasts, part of President Vladimir Putin’s plan to expand Russia’s role in the global coal market.

U.S. Senator John Walsh Says EPA Proposal Misses Mark (Laurel Outlook)

Senator: Obama misses the mark on coal’s future

By JOHN WALSH U.S. Senator

President Obama is missing an important opportunity to protect jobs that rely on Montana’s traditional energy industries.

The President recently proposed new rules for coal-fired power plants. As I travel around Montana, I hear from anglers, farmers and ranchers that our changing climate is impacting their industries and I hear from Montanans concerned that these proposed rules will impact Montana jobs.

I am deeply concerned that President Obama has failed to seize the opportunities for new and better coal technology. Whether we like it or not, coal is and will be part of our energy future for years to come. That means we have a ripe opportunity—and a responsibility—to lead the world in new and better coal technology, creating good-paying jobs in the process.

That’s why I’m introducing a bill in the Senate to force the Obama Administration to protect coal jobs by building 10 carbon capture and sequestration projects within 10 years. (more…)

Mississippi Energy Costs to Soar under EPA Proposal (Mississippi Watchdog)

New EPA regulations on coal-fired power plants could cost Mississippi billions

By Steve Wilson | Mississippi Watchdog

The cost for Mississippi to meet proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulations governing carbon dioxide emissions from coal power plants could run into the billions.

Guess who’ll be footing the tab? Everyone who pays an electric bill.

The proposed regulations, which were released in June, would force Mississippi to reduce its carbon emissions by 38 percent in 2030 from 2005 levels under the formula, which differs for each state. Mississippi received about 13 percent of its electric generation capability from coal-fired plants in 2013 while the United States received 37 percent of its power from coal. Most of Mississippi’s electrical capacity comes from natural gas (72 percent).

Like an iceberg, the regulations on carbon emissions are the visible element. Another element of the proposed regulations that will raise rates for Mississippians is the mandate for electrical generation from renewable sources. Patrick Sullivan, president of Mississippi Energy Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to energy-based development in the state, said the renewable requirements alone could cost state ratepayers anywhere from $5 billion to $10 billion by 2030.

According to Sullivan, that cost would be added on top of the need to increase generation capacity as more industries and residents move to the state.

Arkansas Electric Leader Criticizes EPA Proposal (City Wire)

New EPA rules will hurt Arkansas

By Duane Highley

On June 2, the Environmental Protection Agency announced its most sweeping rulemaking yet, one that will affect every American but disproportionately affect every Arkansan.

By restricting the use of coal, this rule will change the power-supply infrastructure that your money has built and paid for over the last few decades. Despite its tremendous negative economic impact, the proposed rule will have little or no impact on the environment. However, it will have a major impact on the pocketbooks of Arkansans.

The electric cooperatives of Arkansas are responsible for providing reliable, affordable electric power for 1 million Arkansans representing 500,000 homes, farms and businesses in communities covering almost two-thirds of the state. We are a non-profit business enterprise, owned by the members we serve. Since we aren’t in business to make a profit, we have no financial interest in any one power-supply option over another. We don’t prefer coal-based energy because it helps us make more money; we prefer coal-based energy because it saves our member-owners money on their electric bills, simple as that.

Coal power currently provides the majority of your electric energy. Without coal, utilities will shift heavily to natural gas. This is a problem because, even with the shale-gas revolution, natural gas energy costs about twice as much as coal.

Coal not only helps to keep your power affordable, it also helps keep it reliable. This past winter we faced restrictions in the delivery of natural gas to our power plants in Arkansas, and on the coldest days it was offered at a cost up to 1000% (that’s right, one-thousand percent) higher than normal! At times of extreme weather, a 45-day supply of coal on the ground at your local power plant provides great peace of mind and protection from price volatility.

EPA Proposal Will Harm Alabama (

EPA regulations will take a toll on Alabama: reader opinion

By Tom Pyle

President Obama once promised that he would make electricity prices “necessarily skyrocket,” and earlier this month he delivered on his word. Starting next year, the Environmental Protection Agency will force Alabama’s power plants to cut their carbon emissions by 27 percent.

The administration claims that this will save the planet and even create jobs — but its real effects will be job losses, higher prices for electricity and everyday goods, and less economic growth.

The biggest problem: The EPA itself admits that this will do almost nothing for the climate. The agency estimates that it will reduce temperatures by a meager 0.02 degrees Celsius by 2100 — a long time to wait for something so insignificant.

The environment won’t be better off, but the economy will be ravaged. In May, the Chamber of Commerce released a study demonstrating the effects of a slightly more aggressive plan.

Alabama — which generates 30 percent of its electricity from coal — will be hard hit. The EPA rules mandate that it reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 27 percent (every state’s number is different). In order to meet this goal, the state will have to close down low-cost existing power plants and force utilities to purchase electricity from new sources, which are almost always more expensive.

Missouri Plant Closures Linked to Regulations (Associated Press)

Ameren blames EPA standards for coal plant closure, Nixon signs bill to allow less restrictions

Gov. Jay Nixon has signed legislation directing Missouri regulators to develop their own standards for carbon dioxide pollution from power plants.

The bill signing Monday comes as the federal Environmental Protection Agency has proposed rules that would require Missouri to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by more than one-fifth by 2030. Missouri’s electricity production relies heavily on coal-fired power plants, which release greenhouse gases that can contribute to climate change.

The bill says state officials can develop carbon dioxide emission standards that are less stringent than federal guidelines. Missouri legislators had passed the measure before the proposed federal regulations were released. They were concerned the U.S. guidelines could be costly to comply with for electric companies.

Meantime, Missouri’s largest utility says it will close a coal-fired power plant in south St. Louis County within the next several years. Ameren Missouri has told state regulators it will shut down the 61-year-old Meramec coal-fired plant in Oakville by 2022, or possibly sooner pending those stricter rules on greenhouse gas emissions.


Supreme Court Challenges EPA Overreach (The Hill)

No ‘free rein’ for the EPA

 By Peter Glaser

The U.S. Supreme Court has overturned a centerpiece of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) strategy to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, clearly reining in the agency from what has become a pattern of regulatory overreach. This will prove to be a heavy blow to the EPA’s future plans to regulate carbon.

The Court overturned the EPA’s Tailoring Rule this past week, which was a truly breathtaking example of the EPA’s efforts to change the law to suit its agenda. The Clean Air Act requires that facilities that release certain thresholds of pollutants obtain a permit, depending on the type of facility. Congress established these levels so that only large industrial and manufacturing plants would need permits.

But when the EPA began regulating carbon, it ran into a problem. According to agency figures, more than 6 million buildings and facilities potentially would now need permits. This included schools, churches, apartment buildings and everything in between, which even the EPA recognized would be absurd.

The best idea would have been not to regulate carbon at all, but the EPA had another solution: “Tailor” the statute – or essentially rewrite it – to increase permitting levels to target major facilities like power plants, while reserving authority to tighten thresholds over time so that an increasing number of buildings and facilities ultimately would be required to obtain permits. That way the EPA could avoid politically untenable regulatory chaos while pursuing its agenda.

The Supreme Court, however, saw the issue much differently. The Court told the EPA that basic Separation of Powers principles do not permit Executive Branch agencies to rewrite duly enacted laws. The Court therefore struck down the Tailoring Rule, holding that “it would be patently unreasonable – not to say outrageous – for the EPA to insist on seizing expansive power” to rewrite Congressional enactments.